This year’s iHeartRadio Wango Tango concert took place Saturday in Carson, California, and pop star Taylor Swift used the opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month and urge the Senate to pass the Equality Act. The singer, in a rainbow-hued outfit, introduced her performance of “Delicate” by pointing the audience to a petition she created at Change.org to show public support for the bill, which would ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in public accommodations, employment, housing, and a number of other areas. Here’s what Swift had to say:
It’s wonderful to be spending this particular evening with you, because today is the first day of Pride month. You know, a lot of my songs are about love, and I just feel like, you know, who you love, how you identify—you should be able to live your life the way you want to live your life, and you should have the same exact rights as anybody else. So I started this petition, and you can find the link on my Instagram. It’s for the Equality Act, which basically just says that we want to send a message to our government that we believe that everybody should be treated fairly in this country. So if you sign it, it would really mean a lot to me, because I think we need to stick up for each other, we need to stand together. Don’t you?
On her Instagram, Swift posted an open letter to her senator, Lamar Alexander, urging him to “think about the lives you could change for the better” by passing the Equality Act:
Getting Alexander to come out for a bill that prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity seems like an ambitious goal, but Swift’s arguments are sound, and the open letter isn’t really designed to convince him, even if it’s addressed to him. Her dissection of President Donald Trump’s attempt to have things both ways is particularly on point:
I personally reject the President’s stance that his administration, “supports equal treatment of all,” but that the Equality Act, “in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.” No. One cannot take the position that one supports a community, while condemning it in the next breath as going against “conscience” or “parental rights.” That statement implies that there is something morally wrong with being anything other than heterosexual and cisgender, which is an incredibly harmful message to send to a nation full of healthy and loving families with same-sex, nonbinary, or transgender parents, sons or daughters.
As celebrity activism goes, this is better than waving a Palestinian flag around onstage without any context: Swift has chosen a specific act of legislation to throw her support behind and is encouraging her fans to take a specific action to help advance it. The Equality Act has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 20, although its prospects in a majority-Republican senate are dim. (Weirdly, it’s Swift’s other senator, Marsha Blackburn, who sits on the committee, but perhaps Swift’s endorsement of Blackburn’s opponent made Alexander a more likely prospect.) It seems unlikely that Swift will be able to mobilize enough fans to get the bill out of committee, much less get it passed by the Senate and signed by Donald Trump. Still, asking your senator to do the right thing and then watching in horror as they do something awful instead is the quintessential American experience, so kudos to Swift for giving her fans a civics lesson, regardless of the outcome. Swift’s performance at Wango Tango—properly known as “iHeartRadio Wango Tango presented by The JUVÉDERM® Collection of Dermal Fillers at Dignity Health Sports Park,” per Getty Images—was livestreamed on LiveXLive. Highlights of the entire concert, with a lineup that included Halsey and the Jonas Brothers, will air as a 90 minute special on Freeform. While you’re waiting, maybe call your senator.